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Stop the Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Charade!

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May 3, 2007

I agree to use the Stop and Think program according to the following conditions:1) The presenter and supervisor:

  • a) possess an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ
  • b) possess knowledge of the Word of God, and the ability to communicate it’s [sic] truth
  • c) exhibit a loving and merciful spirit
  • d) attend a Bible believing local church or fellowship.

Once again, the ACLU has uncovered evidence that federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funds are potentially being used to promote religion. The above language appears in a contract between the Lane Pregnancy Support Center, an Oregon crisis pregnancy center that receives abstinence-only funding from both the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS), and the Northern Hills Pregnancy Care Center, a South Dakota crisis pregnancy center that also receives abstinence-only funding from HHS. Lane is the author of the Stop and Think abstinence program, and presents the program to students in Oregon public schools. Lane also contracts with Northern Hills and other organizations to present the program in other states. Based on the language of the contract, Lane requires that all presenters of the program adhere to particular Christian beliefs. Given that the presenters of the program must be able to “communicate” the truth of “the Word of God,” it also appears that religion is an essential part of the Stop and Think program. The use of taxpayer dollars to fund a program that favors individuals who hold very specific religious belief, is a clear violation of the Federal and Oregon Constitutions.The ACLU and the ACLU of Oregon have asked HHS and DHS to immediately investigate their funding of Lane, and to ensure that the publicly-funded Stop and Think program is available to presenters of all faiths. This request comes only one week after the ACLU demanded that HHS remedy egregious medical inaccuracies relating to the effectiveness of condoms in preventing sexually transmitted infections — inaccuracies that violate a federal statute — in several federally funded abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. It also come on the heels of a federally commissioned report that found teens in abstinence-only-until-marriage programs are no more likely to abstain or delay having sex than teens who did not participate in such programs.In other words, in the last month alone we’ve seen that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs don’t work, contain dangerous medical inaccuracies, and that some may even promote particular religious views. It’s time for Congress to stop funding these ineffective and inaccurate programs, and to start fundingsexuality education that is free from religious bias, and teaches both abstinence and complete and medically accurate information about how to use condoms and contraceptives effectively.Ava Barbour is a staff attorney fellow with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.

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